Thursday, January 2, 2014

The World's Most Beautiful Bookstores

With the holidays over and many of us headed back to the steel and glass coffins we call office buildings, consider the following three bookstores; the melding of beauty and function is still alive in some places. These images are also proof that heaven will look a lot like a bookstore. And if you're looking for a bookstore pilgrimage in 2014 (and who isn't?), try any, or all, of these three:

El Ateneo - Buenos Aires

El Ateneo Bookstore originally opened in 1919 as a theater named Teatro Gran Splendid. In its configuration as a theater it seated over 1000 people, and was converted into a cinema in the late 1920s. In 2000 it was leased by a bookstore conglomerate and was renovated for used as a bookshop. It is estimated that over 1 million people visit the store each year. Interestingly, the former theater boxes now serve as small reading rooms. This may be the most beautiful bookstore on the planet, and is one of the many reasons to travel to Buenos Aires.

Selexyz Dominicanen - Maastricht, Netherlands

This amazing store is housed in an 800-year-old, former Dominican church that was being used to store bicycles. It is the perfect use for the building, transforming it into a Cathedral of Books and a must-see for book lovers traveling in the Netherlands.

Livraria Lello - Porto, Portugal 

Unlike the two previously mentioned bookstores, Livaria Lello is not in a building converted from other uses; it has been a bookshop since 1881. It has a beautiful staircase and more wood panels than you'll find in an English country manor. Definitely worth the side trip if you're visiting Lisbon, or anywhere else within driving (or train) distance.

And as a preemptive comment to the legions of Powell's Bookstore (Portland, OR) fans who will feel slighted by the list, Powells is an amazing place...but it's not that beautiful.

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